Stripper poles should not be a part of a home. If you own one and I’ve offended you I apologize (sorry mom), but I personally can’t imagine explaining it to my daughters. This new exercise fad serves as a reminder of all the stuff I’ve pushed aside as a responsible parent.
If I didn’t have kids I’d listen to more obscene radio morning show DJ’s with names like Crap Boy & Charlie (oh Crap Boy, you’re so funny and relatable). I’d pee with the door open. I could once again pick my nose anywhere in the house without a little voice nagging, “Put it in a Kleenex dad!” My computer’s music library wouldn’t have all the bad-titled songs “X’ed” out. And I would have a stripper pole. Twelve of them. Less for exercise and more for structural integrity… but yeah.
Come to think of it I’ve been style-shedding for quite some time. Getting married was the first blow. Suddenly my framed Aerosmith poster wasn’t good enough for the living room. Or the basement. Or the frame itself (Dear S. Tyler: I’m sorry*). Gone were the shot glasses above the TV. Everything I gave up was replaced in equal proportion by either a candle or another pillow.
*In a wildly unrelated side story that just crossed my mind: When I was 22 I loved Aerosmith. Borderline unhealthy admiration. Anyway, I was at a dance club trying my damndest to talk to/dance with/touch the shoulder of any girl who’d allow it. One took an interest and danced several songs with me until the DJ played a Run DMC Walk This Way remix. She yelled, “That’s awesome, I love Aerosmith.” My heart leapt. I reached into my wallet and pulled out a plastic embossed card with the wings logo on it and yelled back, “Me too, I’m in the fan club!” The remainder of the night I danced alone.
The change keeps coming in waves. My shower used to simply house soap, shampoo and a razor. Those items all multiplied and had smelly little babies that exfoliate, scrub, and silken. My shower has evolved into its current form… an explosion of rubber ducks, foam alphabet letters and Nick Jr. paraphernalia.
Everywhere I look I see things I’ve either given up or altered for the sake of my wife and kids. Why do we do it… as men, that is? Why we change for our spouses is easy – sex. A high percentage of living room Aerosmith posters directly correlate to a low percentage of boobies.
But why change for our children? They don’t care how badly we decorate. They don’t see the radio morning shows’ raunchy content as negative. They just soak it all up and shape their lives around it. Therein lays the answer.
We dads modify our behavior in hope of being better men, thus creating a better environment for our kids to be shaped. We give up or suppress the ugly in order to grow more beauty. Sure, some of the vices we enjoy as adults are fun and tough to give up, but one look at those innocent, inquisitive eyes and you’d sacrifice anything for them.
I’m a little winded by all this sappiness. I could stand to exercise. You got a pole at your place I can use? I’ll bring my own Aerosmith mix tape.
Nathan Bright is a 30-something stay-at-home dad who resides near St. Louis, MO. He is a husband to an amazing woman and father to a doubly amazing 2 year old little girl. His blessed home is scheduled to be even more blessed in March, as Nathan and his wife will welcome a second daughter to their family. When Nathan is not blogging for The Daddy’s Den, he writes and illustrates his own children’s books. Available for purchase immediately is Maddi Patti and her Stay-at-Home-Daddy.
During the course of this blog I’ve established I’m a stay-at-home parent. Although at-home parenting isn’t a new concept it is difficult for some people to imagine a man doing. I’m not complaining – I have a hard time erasing the conventional from my own brain (Johnny Carson is on at bed time, right?).
While trying to come up with a topic for this blog it hit me… I’m not that different. At all. From a woman, that is.
People want to get my perspective on being an at-home dad. They genuinely want to believe I make blow torch grilled cheese and mop the floor with my daughter’s pj’s while she’s inside.
The reality is far from glamorous. I, like any stay-at-home parent, wake blearily to a schedule full of diapers, cooking, cleaning, planning, playing, instructing, yelling (from me) and crying (me again). I don’t see how it’d be possible for someone to do it any differently. Who would have time to build an erector set sweeping machine when boogers are stuck in their kids’ hair (and the dog’s, although I don’t know how exactly). It takes every second of the day to accomplish stuff… in a standard, non-sensational way.
What I’m saying is that when asked for my perspective I can’t imagine it being too far off from what my female colleagues would say. If there are things to cook… I cook. Things to clean… I clean. I can say I’m rather quirky, so I do put a little flavor on my day to make it interesting. Next time you have your children for the day try communicating mostly with movie quotes. Here are a few to get you started:
Forrest Gump “Lieutenant Dan. Ice cream!” Used when giving child ice cream. Or asparagus – it just sounds better to call it ice cream. Kids love being fooled like that.
Taxi Driver “You talkin’ to me?” Use this phrase when child demands something of you without saying please. Or just recite random lines from “Taxi Driver” to telemarketers. It does wonders for your morale.
Fight Club Tyler Durden: “Did you know if you mixed equal parts of gasoline and frozen orange juice concentrate you can make napalm?” There is no need to quote this other than to watch your two-year-old’s face try to figure out what the hell you just said.
Pulp Fiction Marsellus: “In the fifth, your ass goes down. Say it.”
Butch: “In the fifth, my ass goes down.” When appropriately modified to reflect time, this quote can work wonders for naps.
But I digress. Hey look, a job’s a job and you do what ya gotta do to make it all come together, whether male or female. Unfortunately, the only alluring side to what I do comes from my quirkiness, not my manliness.
Now it’s time to welcome my wife home from work with another movie quote I’m sure she’ll love. “Frankly my dear…”
Nathan Bright is a 30-something stay-at-home dad who resides near St. Louis, MO. He is a husband to an amazing woman and father to a doubly amazing 2 year old little girl. His blessed home is scheduled to be even more blessed in March, as Nathan and his wife will welcome a second daughter to their family. When Nathan is not blogging for OurMilkMoney.com’s The Daddy’s Den, he writes and illustrates his own children’s books. Available for purchase immediately is Maddi Patti and her Stay-at-Home-Daddy.
Written by Nathan Bright
My wife and I have been married five years. We were both career-oriented individuals on a good track. In the year 2006 we had life figured out; I received my master’s, my wife had just gotten her foot in the door in an unusually high position at a local community college, we purchased a first home, got a dog, and I turned 30. I also got a job at a Community Center as the Director of Marketing and Recreational Programming.
Things chugged along smoothly.
We also planned on “not trying” to prevent a baby from coming. Lo and behold the stick said “pregnant” at the end of December. We were ecstatic.
Our daughter entered the world in August 2007. That’s when we discovered what life was all about (figuratively and literally).
My wife took a full 12 weeks maternity leave and I took 2 of vacation. At the end of October our little girl was finally ready for daycare.
To sum it up – it sucked. We woke early, bustled without paying attention to much else outside the routine, said goodbye to our 3 month old for 10 hours, picked her up in the dark, bustled for a cruddy meal, bath, bed, nighttime waking, do it again. Weekends were spent trying to catch up. Little one-on-one time with baby and zero for each other.
It only took two months to realize we couldn’t function as a real family. My wife and I were hardly talking (not because of anger, but just lack of time) and our daughter felt our radiating stress. We inhaled unhealthy meals and did nothing for ourselves.
I made the realization on my own to stay home. My wife’s paycheck was higher than mine, plus my current pay scale had a definite ceiling. We crunched numbers till we were blue and finally decided to go for it. We saw we’d go in debt a little each month – up to about $700 for the entire year – just to make bare ends meet. In the end we decide that the sanity and health it would provide for our daughter would be well worth the money. We factored in gas for me to drive to work, daycare, and all the incidentals such as Xmas gifts for my staff, meals eaten out, etc. Operation “Career Killer” was given a green light.
I’ve been at home for two years now.
People we initially told all had the same response; “Oh really, wow, that’s so great for you guys,” while their faces said “That’s weird”. While introducing me to someone, I once caught my dad saying I worked from home. Women, particularly older, would have the most empathy. Although it sounded weird to them they appreciated the toughness of the task I had before me and realized the sacrifice and value it added to our family.
The value is enormous. I try not to judge others, but it’s tough not to. I see so many other couples who have a paper family (my interpretation of those who are technically in a family but don’t come close to the dynamic complexity involved – this, I feel, can only be accomplished only by spending sheer time with each other).
My wife and I have no problem with being pigeon-holed into “roles”. She works long days for the money. I do house stuff. I feel that if she’s out working hard she should come home to little to no home stresses. As such, I clean, cook, pay bills, maintain house & yard, and everything else associated with home. When she comes home we all have a sit-down healthy meal and enjoy each other’s company.
I’m a catch, I know. For dramatic effect I should say I rub her feet till she falls asleep but that’d be a fib.
Tune in next week when Nathan gives us the pros and cons of being a stay-at-home dad.
Nathan Bright is a 30-something stay-at-home dad who resides near St. Louis, MO. He is a husband to an amazing woman and father to a doubly amazing 2 year old little girl. His blessed home is scheduled to be even more blessed in March, as Nathan and his wife will welcome a second daughter to their family. When Nathan is not blogging for OurMilkMoney.com’s The Daddy’s Den, Nathan writes and illustrates his own children’s books. Available for purchase immediately is Maddi Patti and her Stay-at-Home-Daddy.
Written by Guest Blogger, Edmund Farrow
“So, are you on holiday then?”
It’s the question I fear most. I never know exactly how to answer and it usually comes at an awkward moment, such as when I’m trying to break up a fight between my kids or I’m having my haircut. If I’m really unlucky, I get asked it when I’m trying to break up a fight between my kids while I’m having a haircut. This is obviously worse – difficult explanations are made so much harder when having to hiss threats at a nine-year-old as someone waves scissors around my ears. Normally, though, the question is just well-meaning small talk at the supermarket from an acquaintance or a stranger, designed to make me feel better as I extract a small child from an disastrous encounter with a cereal display.
“Actually, this is me at work,” I mutter, tipping Cheerios out of my daughter’s pockets. “I’m a housedad.”
“Oh!?” The amiable grin on my inquisitor’s face dissolves and they take an involuntary step backwards. Surprise, disbelief, pity and fear fight for control of their wildly-jiggling eyebrows as they realise they’ve blundered into a whole different conversation from the one they were expecting. Then they pull themselves together and remember that it’s rude to stare. They try to think of something encouraging to say.
They usually fail and resort to asking, “Do you enjoy that then?”
I mean, where to begin? I get to watch my kids grow and learn. I have opportunities to play with them, teach them and delight in them that most dads can barely dream of. Do I enjoy being a housedad? Of course I do.
Then again, it can be tough going sometimes. I’ve had to watch Finding Nemo 537 times, for instance. Being a housedad is a daily parenting adventure but it’s also a job.
Back in the day, when I had three children under the age of five, I was constantly busy. There wasn’t time for anything much beyond looking after the kids and trying to stay sane. I regularly had to choose between sleep and time to myself. Getting enough of both was a perpetual juggling act.
The last couple of years have seen a steady improvement. Aside from the occasional nightmare, they all sleep through the night. They all know how to get dressed without assistance. Very rarely, they can even all entertain themselves at the same time and leave me in peace. It’s a crazy new world of wonder I’ve entered. Better than that, my youngest started school this year and I have several hours to myself every day.
Unfortunately, when well-meaning acquaintances learn this, they immediately ask, “Are you thinking of going back to work then?”
Er… Did I say every day? I meant every weekday when school is on and none of my kids are sick. That’s something quite different. At best, I have twenty-seven hours a week with which to pursue another vocation and that’s if I leave shopping and cleaning until the weekend, don’t stop for lunch and ignore any travel time. Most weeks it’s more like twenty hours. Many weeks it’s none.
This limits my career options.
Explaining is more trouble than it’s worth, though. Everyone assumes that, as a man, I must be leaping at the chance to get out of the house and win some bread. It’s only natural, after all. Personally, however, I’d rather have a lie down. I’m due several years’ worth of lunch hours as it is…
I counter by mentioning that I run a parenting website but, sadly, by this point, I’m already irredeemably marked out as ‘slightly odd’.
My interrogator’s eyes narrow. “Does that make any money?”
“That’s not really the point. I get to pass on what I’ve learnt, encourage other parents, build my self-esteem and share a few laughs.”
“So, that would be a ‘no’ then.”
“I do get free computer games.”
For some reason, this always impresses people enough to cover my escape. I make my excuses and leave, mumbling something about having to find my children. Then I set off in the direction of the bickering, following a trail of little old ladies who’ve been barged into freezer units, their rubber-soled shoes waggling out from amongst the packets of frozen peas.
I wonder if mums who ‘only’ stay home and look after their kids face the same kind of thing?
Having all three at school has brought new possibilities. That said, they still need me around an awful lot for the time being. The website (DadsDinner.com) has been going well and is hopefully the beginning of a self-employed writing career but I’m not holding my breath. I’ve got plenty to keep myself occupied – not least with ten years of chores to catch up on. Realistically, my main task for this first year of freedom is to figure out what I’m doing in the second.
Got to start back into the world of paid employment somewhere, I suppose…
Running a successful business with children around is an impressive feat. Hats off to all of you who’re giving it a go.
Located in the UK, Edmund Farrow has been a housedad for nearly ten years and has three children, aged 9, 7 and 5. He vaguely remembers that he was once able to program computers. In 2007, however, he finally got fed up of being told how common housedads are these days by everyone he spoke to, despite the fact he was normally the only one they’d ever met. He decided to set up a website, DadsDinner.com, to share what being a primary carer with only one X chromosome is really like. Dadsdinner offers advice, encouragement and humour to parents, prospective parents and especially stay-at-home dads. It includes guidance on everything from potty training to surviving a zombie invasion, along with reviews of such housedad essentials as home delivery services and films with explosions. Don’t tell anyone, but mums enjoy DadsDinner, too. Sometimes it gives them scary ideas about getting their men more involved in childcare. (Well, scary for the men in question, anyway…)